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Jo Gennari

How I run happy and healthy – Jo Gennari

9 May 2021

Jo Gennari is a manager at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, where she has inspired hundreds of her colleagues, as well as friends and family, to get active. She won a Spirit of The London Marathon award in 2020 for setting up the organisation’s running club, Team LGT, in her spare time (she’s pictured above, centre, with other members of the club). We talk to her about how taking part in an event like the virtual Vitality London 10,000 can be a real confidence-booster for people just starting out on their running journey...

When did you start running and why?
In 2012 – I was about to turn 40 and a friend asked me to run the Great North Run with her to support the hospice her little boy used. I had never run for a bus before!

Have you taken part in any running events since that first Great North Run?
Yes – since then I have run six marathons, one ultra and lots of shorter races. Up until last year I’d only done in-person, mass races, but in October I did the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon and am about to start a month of virtual races for the Vancouver marathon series.

I have run the mass Vitality London 10,000 before and it’s a lovely course – this year I will be running the virtual event with a group of my new beginner runners.

What are the benefits of virtual events?
I think they are particularly helpful as a confidence-booster for new runners who think they can’t run in a ‘real’ race. You still need to put in the effort and I think it’s a great way to keep the training and motivation up.

How has training for the Vitality London 10,000 made you feel happy and healthy?
My job is very stressful and I have a 16-year-old son who is about to do his ‘not GCSE’ exams, so training is sometimes the only quiet time I get. I love being able to clear my head after a busy day or go for a long, chatty run with a friend at the weekend.

How have you fitted in training with your busy schedule working for the NHS?
You have to prioritise – so early mornings sometimes and longer runs on days off or weekends.

Does having colleagues who are also taking part help motivate you?
I run with several of Team LGT – especially on those longer weekend runs. We run, admire the scenery and put the world to rights. We use Twitter and Whatsapp to motivate each other and share news and tips.

What would you say to someone who’s finding it hard to stay motivated to exercise?
It’s important to prioritise yourself and your wellbeing. If you can find a group to run with then that really helps. I am coaching a number of beginners through Couch 2 5K and weekly video calls and the camaraderie makes such a difference.

And what about people who might want to try running but feel self-conscious?
To coin a phrase from an NHS England friend – forget about what people think and enjoy looking ‘banging in Lycra’! Just start small, Couch 2 5K is such a great place to begin. Runners are also a super-friendly bunch – we’ll always cheer on a beginner!

Are you planning to run the virtual Vitality London 10,000 with anyone else this year?
Yes, I’m running with two of my current beginner group – one has just completed her first 5K, so this will be her first 10K, and one who started last year and has recently done her first half marathon.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s virtual Vitality London 10,000?
I’m doing it the day before my birthday and have booked my first trip home in a year, so will run it at the seaside in the fresh air!

Keep an eye on our Instagram account over the next couple of weeks, as Jo and her Team LGT colleagues are set to takeover our Stories with some footage of their training. And next week we’ll be talking to some more members of the team about how they run happy and healthy – their answers are sure to inspire and motivate you as we head towards Event Week!